THE ESTONIAN FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA

The Estonian Festival Orchestra debuts to critical acclaim at BBC Proms & Elbphilharmonie

Copyright: Chris Christodoulou/BBC

© Chris Christodoulou / BBC

Watch it on Youtube:

Pärt: Symphony No.3
Grieg: Piano Concerto
(with Khatia Buniatishvili)
Sibelius: Symphony No.5
Sumera: Spring Fly


“This all-Nordic programme, performed by the excellent Estonian Festival Orchestra under one of the most admired conductors of the day, Paavo Järvi, has long promised to be one of this season’s special Proms.”
The Guardian

“In his sure hands, and with the support of this strikingly impressive orchestra, this was a programme that both ravished the ear and exercised the mind”.
The Arts Desk

On 13 August – immediately following this year’s Pärnu Music Festival where “unanticipated miracles happen every summer in the quiet paradise of Estonia’s seaside capital” (theartsdesk.com) and “a tranquil bathing place is making a world career” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) – Paavo Järvi and the Estonian Festival Orchestra travelled to London to make history with the ensemble’s debut at the BBC Proms. The special performance celebrated both Estonia 100 and the first ever occasion that an Estonian orchestra performed at the world famous British festival. The Royal Albert Hall concert, which sold out within days of going on sale, was broadcast live on both BBC Radio 3 and filmed by BBC TV to air on 17 August (BBC Four). Two days later the Estonian Festival Orchestra made their Hamburg debut following another unprecedented invitation to perform at the Elbphilharmonie.

Enjoy the concert: BBC Radio 3 | BBC Four (BBC iPlayer)

The Estonian Festival Orchestra opened its programme with a performance of Arvo Pärt’s eclectic Symphony No.3. “In a precise performance of a complex, mysterious piece, Järvi and his players captured the seething menace that repeatedly erupts alongside the threat of stasis” wrote The Evening Standard. “This was an excellent choice of home produce for the Proms debut of Paavo Järvi’s seven-year-old Estonian Festival Orchestra” commented The Times. “They gave it a committed performance … scrupulously sculpted, polished and placed. On the platform at the end, Pärt received a hero’s welcome with rapturous applause.”

The concert was brought to a dramatic close with Sibelius’s stiring Symphony No.5, of which bachtrack.com commented: “some performances of Sibelius’ mighty Fifth Symphony are hewn from granite or sculpted from marble. The Estonians’ account was carved from pine, crisp and fresh, surging with energy and athleticism … Invigorating stuff and the highlight of the evening”.

The centre work of the evening was “an exciting performance of Grieg’s evergreen Piano Concerto” (bachtrack.com) with “the irrepressible Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili” (The Times) in which “the beating heart of the performance arrived with the adagio, where she conjured up a radiant, sunset stillness perfectly offset by the Estonians’ gorgeous strings” (theartsdesk.com).

After their appearance at the BBC Proms, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie was the next venue for Paavo Järvi and the Estonian Festival Orchestra, where again Khatia Buniatishvili was the soloist for Grieg’s Piano Concerto. “Now the ensemble has found its firm place in the international concert landscape” wrote bachtrack.com. “Despite its young history, there is already a tradition of focusing on Estonian and Scandinavian compositions in the program, which was also the case in this concert.” The Hamburger Abendblatt especially highlighted the Sibelius performance for comment: “Quite different is the fifth symphony of Jean Sibelius. Paavo Järvi uses wide-ranging gestures to model the rotating motifs, the rugged breaks and endless arcs of the piece. Here, the festival orchestra – composed of Estonian young talent and handpicked musicians from all over the world, with whom Järvi has already worked as a conductor – has a very special tone. It is dark, homogeneously mixed and slender, but when it comes down to it, it also unfolds a deep inner glow … a musical and emotional highlight of the evening.”

The Estonian Festival Orchestra’s debut at the BBC Proms and Elbphilharmonie follows an extraordinary year in which the ensemble has also charted debuts across Europe including Stockholm (Berwaldhallen), Brussels (Bozar), Berlin (Philharmonie), Vienna (Konzerthaus), Zurich (Maag) and Luxembourg (Philharmonie).

For Paavo Järvi, the creation of the Estonian Festival Orchestra is potentially one of his most important musical achievements to date. It is a recognition of his native country and a celebration of its cultural identity within Europe. “This unifying spirit” says Järvi “is what drives the Orchestra and makes me particularly proud as its father figure.”

EFO NEWS

THE LURE OF THE NORTH

“What is so enchantingly charming and magical about this time forgotten place? The concentration of the musicians who gather around Paavo Järvi is the one thing. And the absolute absence of any pretention”
Die Welt

“The world-famous Järvi conducting dynasty, handpicked musicians, a modern concert hall and the historical buildings are Pärnu’s ingredients for the musical event in the so-called “summer capital of Estonia” … Musicians from all over Europe came to Pärnu to become part of a summer festival of the generations. […]

“MÖTEN, MINNEN, MUSIK”

Sweden’s Opus Magazine interviews Paavo Järvi about “Memories, a meeting place & music”  – three words that characterise Pärnu and the Estonian Festival Orchestra which makes its
debut at Stockholm’s Baltic Sea Festival on 24 August.
Read the full story in Swedish on line at opusmagasin.se

“LIGHT, SKIES, SOUNDS”

Germany’s Die Zeit visits Pärnu “where a small festival is set to conquer Europe” and reports on the Estonian Festival Orchestra and its allure:

“The musicians of the orchestra come from everywhere. Members of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen sit shoulder to shoulder with Estonian newcomers and colleagues from France, Greece or the USA. Paavo Järvi’s goal (“over two or three years”) is to emulate an institution such as the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the Claudio Abbado elite-based ensemble, gathering the best of the […]

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EFO PRESS

“What is so enchantingly charming and magical about this time forgotten place? The concentration of the musicians who gather around Paavo Järvi is the one thing. And the absolute absence of any pretention”
Die Welt

Sweden’s Opus Magazine interviews Paavo Järvi about “Memories, a meeting place & music”  – three words that characterise Pärnu and the Estonian Festival Orchestra which makes its
debut at Stockholm’s Baltic Sea Festival on 24 August.
Read the full story in Swedish on line at opusmagasin.se

“The musicians of the orchestra come from everywhere. Members of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen sit shoulder to shoulder with Estonian newcomers and colleagues from France, Greece or the USA. Paavo Järvi’s goal (“over two or three years”) is to emulate an institution such as the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the Claudio Abbado elite-based ensemble, gathering the best of the best summer each summer. This may seem a bit of a high goal, but it is not far-fetched. Pärnu also has a special aura, scenic and relaxing like around Lake Lucerne. Its remote, northern location has an enormous charm. Last but not least, the orchestra will be going on its first European Tour in 2018 to make itself known more widely.” (April 2017)
www.zeit.de

One half consists of Estonian musicians, the other is made up from artists Paavo met during his successful conducting career, the festival’s orchestra is now ready to take flight and start touring Europe.“As little as we get some sleep here, and as much as we work here, somehow there is an enormous sense of accomplishment, and adrenaline, and good music-making; every summer I am richer by getting to know very close and personally some of the greatest musicians that are alive today,” said Järvi.
www.euronews.com

“This is highly concentrated music making, where all the details are worked out: the ping pong of accents between violins and horns, antiphons between the woodwind groups, targeted focus curves in the second violins. Nothing is sweeping, nothing sleepy and nothing washed away. As Iván Fischer did with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Claudio Abbado with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Paavo Järvi has also chosen the best musicians from orchestras around the world with which he has worked … Järvi could go into open competition with Lucerne and Verbier. For this purpose he could have extended – even expanded – the festival time and programme in Pärnu with more courses and concerts. But he does not want this … “I need this week for high concentration in Pärnu. I have experienced so many festivals that have been seduced by their success to increase their growth. They continue to produce good music, but their character is lost.” (July 2016)
www.faz.net

“The world-famous Järvi conducting dynasty, handpicked musicians, a modern concert hall and the historical buildings are Pärnu’s ingredients for the musical event in the so-called “summer capital of Estonia” … Musicians from all over Europe came to Pärnu to become part of a summer festival of the generations. Many of them are Estonians who work abroad. Others have been infected by their enthusiasm. And the Estonian music scene is concentrated for two weeks in the small coastal town, where the Järvi family opens a window into an ideal music world”
Deutschlandfunk kultur

“Paavo Järvi calls, and everyone comes. The best musicians from Estonia, the Baltics and international orchestras such as Bremen, Paris, Frankfurt and Cincinnati. Now the Estonian Festival Orchestra was performing for the first time outside its musical home in Pärnu — The orchestra was in the magical Latvian seaside resort of Jürmala, located on the Riga Sea, about 12 km from the Latvian capital. Ursula Magnes reports on a touching, Baltic August evening. In January 2018 the EFO will be a guest at the Konzerthaus in Vienna.
Radio Klassik Stephansdom

 

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